|Student essay winners: Rashunda Campbell|
|Written by Rashunda Campbell/TCI Community College|
|Friday, 24 February 2012 17:50|
Editor’s note: Ten teenagers were awarded a 10-day trip to London for their essays on the topic “A 21st Century relationship between the U.K. and the TCI.” We will be publishing the winners’ essays in this and upcoming issues.Britain’s links with the Overseas Territories are long-standing and important. The relationship is rooted in a shared history, but it moves forward too in partnership. Britain views the overseas territories as a significant element in its national and international identity, and feels an important sense of responsibility. Likewise, the Overseas Territories view their connection with Britain as significant; however, they still desire their individual character and diversity. Despite this, the Overseas Territories retain their connection with the United Kingdom because it is the expressed wishes of their people that they do so. Presently, there are fourteen (14) Overseas Territories linked with Britain and The Turks and Caicos Islands is one of the fourteen (14) territories that are overseen by the United Kingdom since 1766. The Turks and Caicos Islands shares a political, social, and economic relationship with the United Kingdom. In this essay, the abbreviation UK will be used to represent United Kingdom and TCI for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The UK and the TCI shares a political relationship where the British Government is represented through a Governor, Chief Secretary, Attorney-General and a number of other expatriate officers. The TCI is to a large degree self-governing through a form of ministerial government elected at general elections held every four years. In 1976, the TCI were granted their first full constitution, establishing an elective form of government. This form of government was known as the Ministerial Government. It was suspended in 1986 due to allegations of corruption and drug trafficking charges relating to several of the serving Ministers. A new Constitution was put in place in 1988, which was eventually superseded by the constitution of 2006. The 1999 White Paper “Partnership for Progress and Prosperity” was a major step in the UK’s relationships with its territories and it set out a number of recommendations on issues such as the constitutional link, citizenship, the environment, financial standards, good governance and human rights. In many ways the outcome of the Partnership for Progress and Prosperity White Paper indicated that the Labor government was serious in its attempts to overcome long-standing problems in the UK-Overseas Territories relationship. However, after evidence of high probability of systemic corruption or other serious dishonesty was found, the question can be asked: “Have the good intentions of the 1999 White Paper come to nothing?”
A Commission of Inquiry was called in 2009 and was led by Sir Robin Auld. On 23 March 2009, evidence was found of possible corruption in the Michael Misick’s Administration. The actions of the then Administration had once again caused the suspension of the Country’s Constitution. This was a serious constitutional step which the UK Government said was not taken lightly and stated that it was necessary to restore good governance and sound financial management.
While the people of the TCI welcomed the ideas of good governance, transparency and sound financial management, the economic downturn following the Commission of Inquiry has left most people downtrodden and defeated in spirit. The outcries are still heard throughout the islands and many liken the relationship with the UK as one of the slave and master- “whatever Britain says goes”. The Governor now in charge of all the country’s affairs appointed a Consultative Forum and an Advisory Council whose main role is to advise with the full understanding that the advice given will not always be accepted, since the final decision lies with the Governor.
Many persons are opposed to the Governor being the final decision maker and are anxiously awaiting the return of ministerial government. There is a cloud of doubt and fear which stems from decisions being made without proper consultation and often times advice given is ignored. This type of practice has left the people feeling stripped of their democratic rights and freedoms. I believe that the British should do nothing more and nothing less than they are really supposed to do and that decisions should be made by and in agreement with the people of the TCI.
At this time in the social structure of the TCI, there is a weakened relationship between the UK and TCI. People are beginning to feel that Britain has let down her subjects and are demanding answers. The unemployment rate in the TCI, which is increasing daily, can be seen as a sign of poor social relationships between the UK and the TCI. Recently, the redundancy exercise was launched in hoping to down size the number of civil servants who are not qualified for various positions.
While I am aware that some positions are currently occupied by people who lack the required qualifications, it should not be a case where someone who has occupied that position for quite some time is suddenly given a separation letter. The majority, if not all TC Islanders, believe that the British can provide more educational opportunities and develop more vocational infrastructure which will assist in the development of skills and training for the TC Islanders. This will result in them being more qualified, thus creating more job opportunities and developing self reliance.
We as Turks and Caicos Islanders have been blessed to have been provided the opportunity for both full and partial scholarships to pursue our academic endeavors. Unfortunately, over the past few years, evidence was found of scholarships being abused which resulted in the not only the cutting of scholarships, but also the lack of educational opportunities abroad for young students who have worked above and beyond to qualify for financial help. In order to prevent the suffering of our youths, I believe that there are solutions that can combat this problem. More scholarships can be been issued, this means that proper and secure measures will have to be put in place to ensure there is no abuse of the system. It should not be seen that young TCIs are being deprived of their scholarships because of past actions of others. Regular and continuous observations can be made for those with these scholarships to ensure transparency. These solutions to the scholarship problem will help in the bettering of the UK and TCI relationship in this area.
I believe that development is imperative for the provision of jobs and the training of the youth is essential so that there can be an immediate form of relief from unemployment which is high amongst our youth. Investors are banging on the doors of the TCI and the British need to unlock the deadbolts and let them in, so that the financial blood flows back into our weakening country.
In closing, we have seen evidence of strain on the relationship between the UK and the TCI but there is nothing that cannot be resolved when there is a concerted effort on both sides of the divide. However, it is now time to move forward and correct the mistakes for the perseveration of the next generation of young TCIs. It is now time to put measures in place so that history will not repeat itself. How can we as a country and a territory of the UK ensure that the suspension of the constitution doesn’t happen a third time? We would need to go back to our first constitution and continue encouraging good government in human rights, finance, and combating drug trafficking – related crime, unemployment and develop sustainable economic and social growth. The UK can not place itself in all areas of governance. How then will we learn what to do? The UK must take seriously it constitutional responsibilities of oversight, defense, security and financial services and allow the Ministerial Government of the TCI to manage the affairs of its country.
I believe that the above suggestions can contribute greatly to improve the relationship between the UK and TCI if they are seriously considered. These suggestions are by no means a quick fix to a small problem, but rather small pertinent steps that can be taken in the right direction.
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